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Metabo Law and Foreigners

LunaDragon

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I came across something that mentioned Japan's Metabo Law.
Does it apply to foreigners at all? Would I not be able to find work because of my "American waistline?"
 

Mike Cash

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Link, please, so we can all know what you're talking about.

Your waistline will present no legal obstacles to your working in Japan.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I came across something that mentioned Japan's Metabo Law.
Does it apply to foreigners at all? Would I not be able to find work because of my "American waistline?"
I've seen lots of fat salary men on the trains.

Never forget that government social programs like this are usually designed to give the illusion of fixing a problem, not actually fixing it. In this case they have to measure your waistline, if my quick reading is correct. Which they will dutifully do, I imagine, and dutifully write down the results in your file, dutifully give you a lecture about the results, and then close the file until next year when they will do the exact same thing.

Caveat: I don't work for a typical Japanese company, so maybe I'm entirely wrong...
 

LunaDragon

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metabo law - Google Search

I'm a 32-year-old white woman, I'm an obvious American. I've heard women are the most criticized by Japanese society, which I can deal with. I was worried it might affect my chances of getting a job, or getting into a school in Japan.
 

WonkoTheSane

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metabo law - Google Search

I'm a 32-year-old white woman, I'm an obvious American. I've heard women are the most criticized by Japanese society, which I can deal with. I was worried it might affect my chances of getting a job, or getting into a school in Japan.
I've noticed that the people who look for criticism and discrimination find it, whereas those who don't... Don't.

Ignore what you've read and just come with an open mind and you'll likely find there are good and bad people and experiences here like everywhere else.

The most well adjusted foreigners I've met here have been those who didn't know much about the country before they came. I think the fewer expectations you have the less tainted your experience will be. Good or bad.
 

LunaDragon

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Ah, thank you! I have a friend who believes I'm romanticizing the country. I'm fascinated by Japan, and I keep trying to learn more about the country before I have an opportunity to go, which results in me reading articles like this and wanting to be prepared.
 

WonkoTheSane

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Ah, thank you! I have a friend who believes I'm romanticizing the country. I'm fascinated by Japan, and I keep trying to learn more about the country before I have an opportunity to go, which results in me reading articles like this and wanting to be prepared.
English articles about Japan will only prepare you to be surprised by how ridiculous those articles are when you get here and look back on what you read.

If you want to be prepared, use all the time you're wasting reading those articles to learn Japanese if you don't know it.
 

Mike Cash

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metabo law - Google Search

I'm a 32-year-old white woman, I'm an obvious American. I've heard women are the most criticized by Japanese society, which I can deal with. I was worried it might affect my chances of getting a job, or getting into a school in Japan.

Not unless you're some freak of nature land whale, no.

I could have googled "metabo law" myself. The point in asking for a link to the specific information you had read was so we could provide specific information, amplification, and/or refutation with our discussion being on the proverbial "same page". It isn't reasonable to ask broad vague questions based on information from sources the specific contents of which are uncertain to us and expect specific answers. Nor is it reasonable to just throw us an entire google results page and expect us to wade through all the crap and serendipitously just happen to end up reading the same parts of the same pages that you did and magically intuit the sections that had sparked your questions and concerns. You read something specific. It is up to you to provide others the means to readily access the same material via links or quotes....not to pull a snarky smartassed move like sending us on a combination scavenger hunt and mind-reading exercise.
 

LunaDragon

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If you want to be prepared, use all the time you're wasting reading those articles to learn Japanese if you don't know it.
I am trying to learn. I'm using MindSnacks, HumanJapanese, and Memrise, switching between them as needed. I'm also seeing what my options are in regards to working/learning in Japan as I have an unaccredited Associates degree. That's been my life lately.
 

LunaDragon

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Not unless you're some freak of nature land whale, no.
That was awful...ly kind of you to say. No, I don't need to special order my clothes, I can walk without gasping for air, I can move freely within my dwelling without the need for a forklift or widened doorways,... you get the idea. That being said, have I been called names similar to "freak of nature land whale?" Yes, because people are mean.

I could have googled "metabo law" myself.
You asked for links. I complied.

The point in asking for a link to the specific information you had read was so we could provide specific information, amplification, and/or refutation with our discussion being on the proverbial "same page". It isn't reasonable to ask broad vague questions based on information from sources the specific contents of which are uncertain to us and expect specific answers. Nor is it reasonable to just throw us an entire google results page and expect us to wade through all the crap and serendipitously just happen to end up reading the same parts of the same pages that you did and magically intuit the sections that had sparked your questions and concerns. You read something specific. It is up to you to provide others the means to readily access the same material via links or quotes....not to pull a snarky smartassed move like sending us on a combination scavenger hunt and mind-reading exercise.
I read a few things, but I hadn't found anything pertaining to foreigners.

There was a post on Reddit from some guy who's apparently more muscle than fat, who was worried that his muscular midsection would be an issue. For that, I can understand commenters saying, "you're a gaijin rock star! Just be confident!" I'm excluding this because it was mainly about confidence.

I was trying to find something explaining the law more completely. I do understand that the law is worded to say "citizens," not "residents" as a whole. I was trying to see if it mattered for someone who wasn't a Japanese citizen, if I might force a company to pay heavy fines or if I wasn't being counted because, hey, I'm an American and everyone knows Americans are overweight.

That's not to say I wouldn't try to lose weight while I'm in Japan. That, however, is for another post.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I am trying to learn. I'm using MindSnacks, HumanJapanese, and Memrise, switching between them as needed. I'm also seeing what my options are in regards to working/learning in Japan as I have an unaccredited Associates degree. That's been my life lately.
Get a good textbook and whatever workbook with which it is associated. Or, better yet, take a class and follow the curriculum which has been designed by people who know what they're doing in regards to teaching instead of random people who wrote apps.

Do, at minimum, a bachelor's degree with an accredited institution. Preferably a useful one aside from anything to do with Japan.

Both of these things will be issues related to your options. Your weight will likely have no effect.

Get those two things in order.
 

Mike Cash

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That was awful...ly kind of you to say.

It was neither kind nor unkind. It was a simple and factual answer to your question. Unless you are gargantuan your size won't preclude your education or employment, and even then really only if you're so huge that it becomes an issue of physically fitting into places...which isn't really all that likely.

The average size of people in Japan is smaller (both vertically and horizontally) than it is in America, and with a less wide range of deviations from the average sizes than one would encounter in America as well. And while Japanese stature and obesity have risen compared to the past, people whose BMI would not draw a second glance in America would, quite often, be considered real porkers here. Further, the concept of politically correct speech is not common here and one of the results is there is nothing and no one to shout down people who engage in "fat shaming" in Japan....people here will quite unabashedly remark upon other people's weight.... and all the more so in the case of foreigners.

Building on the above, saying that you don't have to special order your clothes in America really tells us nothing. It is very likely that once you are in Japan you will find that you do have to special order your clothes, or at least hunt up a specialty shop. Many foreign women complain of the difficulty of purchasing shoes here, regardless of body size. It is about deviating from the relatively narrow norm more than it is simply about being large. My daughter, for example, is about 5'10" and very slim and all her life has had a hell of a time finding clothes and shoes here. Very few Japanese women are that tall and the stores just don't stock things for them. Same story when it is the waistline instead of the height. If you fall outside the range of typical female body size in Japan, you'll be special ordering your duds here.

What is it you are interested in studying here and what sort of work are you interested in doing here? In all actuality, your body size and shape won't really have that much of a role in your life here. Far more important factors are that you make yourself familiar with the nature of immigration requirements, whether the field you contemplate is even open to you here or not, what the professional licensing/certification requirements and procedures are like, employment prospects (demand), whether employers want experience or not, what level of Japanese proficiency is required and whether you have it or not, etc. It's your brain, attitude, and personality that will determine whether you succeed at coming here or not...your gut just comes along for the ride, same as if you were skinny.
 

Majestic

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I was trying to find something explaining the law more completely. I do understand that the law is worded to say "citizens," not "residents" as a whole. I was trying to see if it mattered for someone who wasn't a Japanese citizen, if I might force a company to pay heavy fines or if I wasn't being counted because, hey, I'm an American and everyone knows Americans are overweight.

I was slightly curious about the above statement - particularly about the bit contemplating forcing the company to pay a fine. In general, the Japanese law is a very paternalistic thing. Japanese companies pay a portion of your national health insurance, so your employer is deemed to have certain responsibilities for your health. Your employer is obliged to make you (and all employees) perform an annual health examination, the results of which are sent both to you and your employer. The company mandated health examination is a bit intrusive to my American sensibilities. The results getting sent to the company would be out of the question in the US. Anyway, I say this just so you know that the Japanese view is very different from the US view. The "metabo law" is related to these health exams. It doesn't mean there are policemen whose job it is to measure the waistline of random people on the streets. By the way, I am, unfortunately, over the 33-inch standard, and I have never been subject to any counseling or follow-up exams. Actually, there is a check-box on the questionnaire that you fill out before each exam that asks if you will be interested in any nutritional counselling or advice. I always check "no", and I have never been bothered. Well...there is the personal feeling of disappointment at my expanding waistline, but there is no official shaming.

But let's say your company didn't like something about you: your body size, your hair style, your skin color, your gender, etc... there are laws on the books that prevent you from getting arbitrarily fired, and so workers are well-protected by the law. However, you have to be ready for a long legal battle, and it helps to have super-strong Japanese language skills, and you have to have confidence that if you win your court case that another Japanese company will be keen to hire you after your court case winds up. What I'm trying to say is that, Japan is gradually becoming more litigious, but it certainly isn't like the US. Your chances of forcing the company to pay a fine on the basis that they may have discriminated against you are not high.
 

WonkoTheSane

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Your employer is obliged to make you (and all employees) perform an annual health examination, the results of which are sent both to you and your employer.
Do you happen to know if this applies to all companies and all employee classes (for example small business owners and contractors to that small business)? I'm not sure what to google (either in English or Japanese) to find the law about this, would you mind terribly giving me a link?

Thanks!
 

Mike Cash

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I remember reading up on this years ago and noticing that while the employer has obligations regarding the health check....I didn't notice anything obliging the employees to participate. Consequently, I have from time to time simply refused to participate in any part of the exam I chose not to participate in. My co-workers were at first amazed that anyone did that, but after I explained my reasons i noticed in later years that some of them now do the same thing.
 

LunaDragon

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I was slightly curious about the above statement - particularly about the bit contemplating forcing the company to pay a fine.
I basically meant they'd be hiring me at their own risk, that I might be the one person who puts them over their limit of overweight individuals.

So would they do the thing where my job becomes menial labor until I'm so bored I quit? If I acted like that was still the best job ever, what would happen next?

Get a good textbook and whatever workbook with which it is associated. Or, better yet, take a class and follow the curriculum which has been designed by people who know what they're doing in regards to teaching instead of random people who wrote apps.
Have you tried any apps? I once had a Nintendo DS cartridge that would teach not only vocabulary, but also how to write the characters. I sold that cartridge when I stopped using my DSi, but I digress.
A textbook isn't going to give me an audio example of a syllable or word. A textbook isn't going to tell me if my stroke order and placement is correct. Software might not be a decent substitute for actually taking a class, but I can choose when, where, and for how long to study. If I decide to take a class in the future, I shouldn't feel as overwhelmed by new material because I will probably have quite a bit committed to memory.

Do, at minimum, a bachelor's degree with an accredited institution. Preferably a useful one aside from anything to do with Japan.
American colleges are already starting up for the year, so I'm a bit late.
 

WonkoTheSane

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If I'm reading this correctly (with a TON of google translate help):

健康診断の受診は、労働者に課せられた義務でもありますが、そのような意識を持った方はあまりいないのではないでしょうか。何かと理由をつけて受診を拒否し続ける労働者に対しては、放置しておくのではなく、義務である旨を伝えて何回か根気よく働きかけるべきでしょう。
たとえば就業規則に「健康診断を受診しなければならない」旨を定め、これを周知しておくと、それを根拠として「受診するように」と働きかけることができます。

また、場合によってはその規定に違反したとして、比較的軽微な懲戒処分に処すことも検討できるでしょう。実際にそこまでやるかは会社の判断次第ですが、一定の効果はあろうかと考えられます。

I, as the company employee (and owner, though irrelevant here), can refuse to partake in a health exam and thereby relieve the company of the obligation to make me go and do that. The company *can* impose a penalty but does not have to do so.

I have a phobia of needles, so I'm trying to get around this whole blood test thing. I'm not saying it's a good choice.

Annoying. Looks like I need to check with a lawyer... Or just get a checkup and deal with this.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I basically meant they'd be hiring me at their own risk, that I might be the one person who puts them over their limit of overweight individuals.

So would they do the thing where my job becomes menial labor until I'm so bored I quit? If I acted like that was still the best job ever, what would happen next?

No offense, but you're so far ahead of the horse with your cart that you might as well just cut the reins.

What if when I become a billionaire they raise the taxes to 95% on billionaires?

You don't have any of the prerequisites yet to go to Japan, I wouldn't worry about getting fired from a job from which you're 4 years away from having the minimum qualifications.

Have you tried any apps? I once had a Nintendo DS cartridge that would teach not only vocabulary, but also how to write the characters. I sold that cartridge when I stopped using my DSi, but I digress.
A textbook isn't going to give me an audio example of a syllable or word. A textbook isn't going to tell me if my stroke order and placement is correct. Software might not be a decent substitute for actually taking a class, but I can choose when, where, and for how long to study. If I decide to take a class in the future, I shouldn't feel as overwhelmed by new material because I will probably have quite a bit committed to memory.

Yes.

I have.

I have tried every single shortcut there is because I'm a lazy learner. They don't work. None of them work. My Japanese is still so awful in part because I wasted so much time screwing around.

Textbooks *will* give you audio examples. Any recent and decent textbook has audio examples and work to do based on those examples. Look, you can make any excuse you want, but what it comes down to is that if you want to learn Japanese (not kanji, not vocabulary, not phrases, not stroke order) you're going to have to do some things which can't be described on an app page as "Tell your Japanese skills to saddle up because they just scored a one-way ticket to awesomeville with the one-of-a-kind Japanese app..."

This is not advice from me, it's advice from the people who needed to say it over and over until it finally got through my thick skull. People much smarter than me on this forum.

American colleges are already starting up for the year, so I'm a bit late.

Late registration at all of my alma maters is still open. I just checked. Go do one class at a community college. Take a class which transfers, perhaps a lab biology, I imagine everyone is still required to take biology unless the US education system has sunk lower than I care to imagine. Build from there.

Look, I'm not trying to be a dick, but what it sounds like is that you're kind of really loving the idea of going to Japan but perhaps not really wanting to do it. People who want things figure out how to get those things done. They don't find reasons why they can't do it... They just go out and do it.

If you want a snack you don't say "Well, what if the refrigerator door is sticky, then I'll have to wash my hands... Maybe I should just go on the internet and read about which soap is best." No, you go get the snack because you want the snack.

So decide what you want, figure out how to get it, and go do what it takes.
 

Majestic

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I basically meant they'd be hiring me at their own risk, that I might be the one person who puts them over their limit of overweight individuals.

So would they do the thing where my job becomes menial labor until I'm so bored I quit? If I acted like that was still the best job ever, what would happen next?
I think you are misinterpreting the purpose and the application of the law. There is no quota, and there is no liability for the company as long as they meet their legal obligation and provide you with a health check up. The only time liability comes into question is if your health check-up reveals a condition which would be exacerbated by the kind of work the company asks you to do. For example if your health check up reveals a lung condition, the company should not require you to work in a place where that condition would worsen (i.e. a coal mine or something). The company cannot use your health check-up as a basis for firing you. Not immediately anyway. But I tend to agree with Wonko here; its way too early to think about lawyering-up in the event your future company tries to fire you.

If I'm reading this correctly (with a TON of google translate help):
In your case, your ownership of the company is not irrelevant. The company is obliged to provide health check-ups for all employees. If you do not take the health exam, the company has some liability if the employee has some condition that the company should know about (as above). But this is a liability between the employee and the employer, so in your case it is a moot point. You cannot sue yourself. The government has no interest in this relationship unless the employee wishes to sue the employer - and this would usually only come about in the event the employer refused to provide health check-ups.

I didn't notice anything obliging the employees to participate.
Well, the obligation is for the protection of the employees. If you refuse, the company cannot force you, but your refusal exposes the company to some liability. If I were your company, I would ask you to sign something saying the company did indeed offer you a health check-up and you refused, AND in the event there is a health issue that is worsened as a result of work, you will not hold the company liable. This is what I would do if you were a good employee and I wanted to keep you. If you were a loose cannon and I wanted to get rid of you, I would use this refusal as grounds for dismissal. It all depends on your relationship with your company.
 
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madphysicist

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I'm a 32-year-old white woman, I'm an obvious American. I've heard women are the most criticized by Japanese society, which I can deal with. I was worried it might affect my chances of getting a job, or getting into a school in Japan.

I can't contribute to the main subject of the thread, but I'll just reply to this point since there are very few women on this forum and, well, acting like discrimination against women in Japan is as mild and easy to brush off as that against white people is ridiculous IMO, and something I see far too often. Source: am a white-looking woman.

Though there is some bias against all foreigners at times (as in every country in the world...) it is very unlikely you will experience any open hostility due to being white. Other ethnicities bear the brunt of racism and negative stereotypes.

As a woman you will certainly encounter conscious and unconscious biases against you in education and employment, unless you stick solidly to a career traditionally thought of as "feminine". Being overweight may also be a factor. That's true in any country. However, there are different stereotypes about white women in Japan that if anything might lessen the discrimination against you - that you are more confident and independent than other women, for example, and less likely to leave work to become a housewife.

Anyway, your exact experience will vary due to several different factors, many of which you simply can't know in advance. You shouldn't let potential discrimination stop you from going to spend time in Japan if that's what you want to do. Once you're there, you can decide if the preconceptions people have about you are ones that you can handle in the long term. Overall being a white English-speaking woman will still mean you are treated much better than the vast majority of immigrants to Japan.
 

LunaDragon

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I have tried every single shortcut there is because I'm a lazy learner. They don't work. None of them work. My Japanese is still so awful in part because I wasted so much time screwing around
Everyone learns differently, though. I could present valid information to two different people at the same time; the first person would accept that information, the second would question it for some reason. Why did the second person have an issue? Maybe they need a visual example. Maybe they have previous knowledge of something else that's conflicting with the information I presented, and I have to explain the context for why my information is correct. It's not that the way I presented the information didn't work, it's that the method didn't work for them.

Look, I'm not trying to be a dick, but what it sounds like is that you're kind of really loving the idea of going to Japan but perhaps not really wanting to do it. People who want things figure out how to get those things done. They don't find reasons why they can't do it... They just go out and do it.
No, I WANT to do it. But it's not as simple as hopping on a plane and going there, and if I used that logic I'd be penniless.

If you want a snack you don't say "Well, what if the refrigerator door is sticky, then I'll have to wash my hands... Maybe I should just go on the internet and read about which soap is best." No, you go get the snack because you want the snack.
I go get the snack... Oh no, the fridge door is sticky, so I clean it. You know, the stove is a bit dirty, so while I'm doing some cleaning, I might as well clean the stove too. Okay, that's what I'd do, but you were making an analogy.

I'm not trying to find reasons why I shouldn't go to Japan. My goal for going to Japan is... to go to Japan. The Metabo Law discussion was to see if I'd have any issues trying to work in Japan. If I go on a student visa, I intend to hold down a part-time job at the same time, which means I'd be working. The only time I wouldn't be working in Japan is if I came over on vacation, which would be my option if I was going to have issues with the Metabo Law being in effect. So the question is not whether or not I really want to come to Japan, the question is how I'll get there.

As a woman you will certainly encounter conscious and unconscious biases against you in education and employment, unless you stick solidly to a career traditionally thought of as "feminine".
So I should lean towards being a teacher, for example?

Overall being a white English-speaking woman will still mean you are treated much better than the vast majority of immigrants to Japan.
Good to know! :)
 
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